BUNZ THINKS NUGENT-HOPKINS IS LEGIT

Jason Gregor
May 09 2011 01:12PM

The Oilers drafted netminder Tyler Bunz with the first pick of the 5th round, 121st overall, last June and since then Bunz has progressed nicely. He had a stellar regular season for the Medicine Hat Tigers going 35-13-8 with a 2.47 GAA and a solid 0.919 SV%. His best play might have come in the five game upset over the Red Deer Rebels and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the 2nd round of the WHL playoffs. Bunz was spectacular in those games, and that  along with his consistent regular season play has earned him an invite to the goaltending camp for Canada's World Junior team this June.

Brownlee and I had a chance to get Bunz' thoughts on his season, possibly representing his country and the most talked about topic involving the Edmonton Oilers right now; how good is Nugent Hopkins?

Bunz talked about returning from a concussion to stone the Rebels, the disappointment of losing to Kootenay, and how excited he was to get another call from Team Canada.
 
"Obviously the playoffs went pretty well for me. It kind of took a toll there at the beginning of the first round with the concussion, but I came back strong in the second round and in the third round. In the conference final, Kootenay definitely outplayed us, I think, in that series and they kind of took over. Last Tuesday, I took the call from Ron Tugnutt saying that I got invited to the goalie camp in the summer in June,  and then from there it’s kind of whether you show your skills and if they like you, you go to the camp in August. Hopefully I can do that. I got invited last year, but I didn’t make the August camp, so I’m looking to do that this year."
 
Oiler fans will get to watch the world junior camp live in Edmonton this year from August 3rd to 6th, but I'm sure many of you weren't aware that the goalies have a preliminary camp earlier in the summer. Bunz gave us the low down on when and where the camp is, and he feels pretty confident he can earn an invite to the main camp in August.
 
"Well it’s in Calgary on June 9th - 12th, and I think there is about eight goalies that go there for the World Juniors and a couple go there for the U18 team. I think the experience I had last year from it  should give me an advantage just because I know what to expect. It won’t be new, it will just be something I went through before and I won’t have to worry about it too much this time."
 

HOW GOOD IS NUGENT-HOPKINS?

After getting the goods on his own season we wanted his evaluation of Nugent-Hopkins. He has seen Nugent-Hopkins for the past few years, and according to Bunz the Oilers won't be disappointed if they draft the Rebels' centre.
 
"I think he has got every asset of a hockey player to be the first overall pick. He has shown his skill and his compete level for the past couple years here, and even when he was 15 and came up to Red Deer he was putting up points that no one really thought he would, and he just carried on from there.
 
"Playing against him, he’s really hard to read off of. He can find open guys that a lot of our team can’t see and he can find open ice like no other player I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t use his shot as much as I would if I was him - he has a really good shot - he looks to pass more often than shoot. If he could find a way to use his shot more, he will be an even bigger threat. It was pretty cool to play against him just because of the skill he’s had and for us to shut him down like we did, it was pretty amazing. We knew that he’s a top end guy."
 
It is interesting to get an opposing goalies' evaluation. Some reports have said Nugent-Hopkins doesn't have a great shot, but it sounds like he just doesn't use it often enough. I'd rather have a player who possessed a good shot, but didn't use it often enough, rather than a guy who shoots often, but couldn't break glass from ten feet.
 
Some thought Nugent-Hopkins' lack of production v. the Tigers was A red-flag, but according to Bunz the Tigers came up with a game plan designed to shut him down because they knew he was the catalyst to their offence.
 
"When you play against a guy like Nugent-Hopkins you’re going to be aware of when he’s on the ice and as a goalie you do that as well. In the playoffs our D were more aware of when he was out there, and that we needed to have a good gap against him. I think that was the major difference in playoffs.  We didn’t do it in regular season and he lit us up for about seven points. With him you have to take away his time and space and have a really good gap against him because he is so skilled. We played well, but it was only a short window and since he’s such a skilled player, I think he'll figure out how to beat that in the future, and I really believe that he will go first overall." 

OILERS A GOOD FIT

The Oilers organization isn't  loaded with many goaltending prospects. Outside of Olivier Roy and Devan Dubnyk, the Oilers don't have any other young guys and Bunz feels Edmonton is the ideal team for him to get a chance to continue his development.
 
"It’s pretty exciting to know that they are not, like you said, loaded up with goalies. You know it’s going to be a young team a couple years down the road. I’m hoping to jump into a position where I can make the team. I just have to keep doing what I have been doing now and not look too far ahead down the road. You know things do change really quickly. You have to be ready for adversity that you endure throughout your career. I’m just really focused on having a good year next year, and hopefully signing in the near future so I can play in the AHL when I’m 20. From there it’s just all about development.
 
"I think that if you play well in the first few years in AHL and with the goaltending situation in Edmonton it can give you a really good shot at making the team in four to five years. You know it seems like a while, but I’m already through my third year in the WHL and it goes by fast, and it’s going to be a quick couple of years to see where I’m at with my development so I’m looking forward to it."
 
It is clear Bunz recognizes the goaltending landscape in Edmonton, and I like that he doesn't have a feeling of entitlement. He realizes it won't be an easy road to the NHL, but he seems determined to get there and be part of the Oilers. Bunz might even surprise himself and find that in only three years there could be a great opportunity in Edmonton. He's correct in mentioning that a lot can change between now and then, but the Oilers' philosophy changed recentley and now it's about developing from within rather than looking for a quick fix elsewhere. If Bunz continues to progress, he'll likely get a good look within the organization.
 
Like any prospect he has areas of his game he needs to work on and Bunz was very honest about what areas he wants, and needs, to work on this summer.
 
"I think my skating needs to improve. Any goalie really should work on your skating no matter how good you are. I really learned that from Freddy Chabot. He really harps on being a perfect skater and he does that with the goalies they have now. You always have to work on that, and I just want to keep staying consistent.  My confidence and overall consistency were the areas I improved the most this year, and I need to keep working and improving in both those areas.
 
"Obviously playing the puck as well. That’s a huge skill that any goalie really can take advantage of if you are good at it. I got a lot better with it this year. It’s funny when are playing the game and in the first period guys are dumping the puck and you can make a really good play to get your team out of the zone, and then in the next few periods they start changing up their dump ins and start putting it into the corner. I take pride in that and it’s just something I want to keep working on." 
 
A lot can happen in the next three or four years regarding Bunz' development, but the 19-year-old seems very focused on what he needs to do to succeed at the next level, and if this past season was any indication, then I'd expect Bunz to be in the Oilers' goaltending mix sometime in the near future.
 
I suspect Oiler fans will get a chance to see him at the World Junior camp this August, and if he continues to progress early next season there is a very good chance you could watch an Oiler prospect playing goal for Canada for the second straight season.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 Wäx Män Riley
May 10 2011, 08:26PM
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Double post... so instead I will send you here in an attempt to distract you, while I steal your bike.

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#52 Wäx Män Riley
May 10 2011, 08:26PM
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Kevin wrote:

Hockey futures has 1 yes just one Oil prospect in the top 50. That being Maricin at #40. Any idea what to make of this ? I wish Edm media and oil management would stop talking about their prospects and how good the future looks. People better start seeing the forest for the trees. ST and KL are not the right duo for this re-build. I'm sorry but one in 50 is not going to cut it in my books. This organization is on the road to ruin and primed for another lotto pick next year and beyond.

I don't think they are counting players on the NHL or AHL rosters.

Vancouver has 1. San Jose has 1. Anaheim has 1. Tampa Bay has 1. Boston, Montreal, and Philly don't have any.

Florida has 4... do you think Florida has a better future than those teams?

I guess we will see Van, SJ, ANA, TBay etc.. on that road to ruin too.

I'm not defending TambeLoweni, I'm defending the team. I sure hope they sign a couple of capable veterans though, or you may be right.

I watched the Vancouver game last Sunday and watched ol' Grapes look straight into the camera and tell the Oilers to get it done before our talent gets used to losing. It kinda scared me.

EDIT: My mistake on the NHL/AHL comment... just read comment #50. A great quote from one of those top 50

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#53 positivebrontefan
May 10 2011, 08:49PM
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Kevin wrote:

Hockey futures has 1 yes just one Oil prospect in the top 50. That being Maricin at #40. Any idea what to make of this ? I wish Edm media and oil management would stop talking about their prospects and how good the future looks. People better start seeing the forest for the trees. ST and KL are not the right duo for this re-build. I'm sorry but one in 50 is not going to cut it in my books. This organization is on the road to ruin and primed for another lotto pick next year and beyond.

This is the same website that has Omar,k at #5 on the Oilers depth chart and Colton Tuebert at 36th on the Oilers prospects depth chart below Alex Plante, Jeremy Blain? And others? Not sure. They're the experts. I'm not reading to much into this.

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#54 positivebrontefan
May 10 2011, 08:58PM
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Wäx Män Riley wrote:

Double post... so instead I will send you here in an attempt to distract you, while I steal your bike.

Lmao. I really liked the star boobs robots at 2:43. That is three minutes I will never get back...... HEY!!! Where's my bike you bastard!!!

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#55 Kevin
May 10 2011, 09:35PM
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Blue Blooded wrote:

Give me a break man... you seem to be forgetting some career guys already in the lineup: Hall.... Eberle..... MPS..... I think you'll see Olivier Roy join that list after next year. Petry will be peachy. As guys prove themselves in the AHL, their names will appear on such lists. PS, there are quite a few "strugglers" on that list. Nikita Filatov being one such (drafted in 2008). Here's "Hockey Futures" take on Filatov: "Expected to be a top-six offensive contributor out of training camp this season for the Blue Jackets, Filatov showed flashes of skill but lacked the consistency necessary to play in the NHL. After going goalless with seven assists in 23 games, Filatov was sent to the AHL, where his struggles continued as he posted 20 points in 32 games, ranking him outside Springfield's top ten forwards in scoring. That Filatov stuck around for the whole season is a promising indication that he wants to do what it takes to get to the NHL, but he needs to put in more effort on the ice to again be considered an upper-echelon prospect." I've proven my point..... unless/until Filatov busts out of the gates next season with a spoon full of shut the ^&%@ up for me

I hope your right ! OKC did not make it out the first round ! Lets be realistic and look at the facts and the trends. This team has had and remains to have obvious and glaring needs. For almost two years now management has done nothing to address them. As well,they have and continue to mismanage assets. I sorry one cannot make mistakes such as these in the bigs and it plainly shows. Accountants always say- numbers don't lie. Yet another toilet bowl finish and an AHL team that barely makes the post season only to fall in the first round. Sorry but reality in OIL Country sucks !

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#56 Quicksilver ballet
May 10 2011, 11:22PM
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@Wäx Män Riley

As much as i agree that Grapes is dead bang on in his assessment, i have to think Tambellini and Lowe probably laughed and scoffed at it. Like i've been saying all year, Tambellini and Lowe don't have the luxury of time anymore. The future is now for Taylor Hall and company.

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#57 Blue Blooded
May 10 2011, 11:24PM
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@Kevin

I'll agree that our management really needs to address needs and better manage assets. Pleeeeease Tambs... bring us a new d-man and a utility center! However, I don't think there is anything wrong with getting excited about our prospects. The magnificent bastard has done well so far! Its putting the right pieces around these kids that will make or break our upcoming seasons. Kevin, I promise to form a digital lynch mob with torches, pitchforks, tar and feathers if I ever see a post from you rooting for our team or future superstars after that comment; the only thing worse than the Oilers record these past few seasons is a hypocritical fan rocking the band wagons. Sucks to be you, me thinks, when Taylor Hall is embarrassing the slower defense of whatever team it is you cheer for.

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#58 Wäx Män Riley
May 11 2011, 12:22AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

As much as i agree that Grapes is dead bang on in his assessment, i have to think Tambellini and Lowe probably laughed and scoffed at it. Like i've been saying all year, Tambellini and Lowe don't have the luxury of time anymore. The future is now for Taylor Hall and company.

You see, I disagree. This will be the second year of their ELC. We have them locked up for at the very least 4 more years, probably 5-6.

The learning is now. The growing is now. I just hope they get some help* to learn to win, and to grow into winners.

*Not by signing a $10M dollar player or a whale of an RFA. Those picks will be valuable 5 years from now, and that money will be needed when the ELCs are up.

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#59 Wäx Män Riley
May 11 2011, 12:25AM
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Kevin wrote:

I hope your right ! OKC did not make it out the first round ! Lets be realistic and look at the facts and the trends. This team has had and remains to have obvious and glaring needs. For almost two years now management has done nothing to address them. As well,they have and continue to mismanage assets. I sorry one cannot make mistakes such as these in the bigs and it plainly shows. Accountants always say- numbers don't lie. Yet another toilet bowl finish and an AHL team that barely makes the post season only to fall in the first round. Sorry but reality in OIL Country sucks !

For what is essentially an expansion team to make the playoffs is a good sign.

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#60 madjam
May 11 2011, 08:34AM
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Gregor and Major - Glad you pointed out more of Hopkins weaknesses at this stage .If i bring out to many negatives many of you go off the deep end and figure i don't see their good side , or don't like the player . Sure i've seen him play . He may turn out to be a Horcoff and a good two way player down the line and special team player . A lot of a younger Horcoff makes me see what i see in Hopkins so far - and thats not all bad . If he is simliar to Datsyuk he will have to be a very good two way player and special team player as well . I've also compared Hopkins to Bossy - sufficed to say Bossy had more of a scoring touch . If Hopkins can turn out that well high end(Bossy) then take him.

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#61 Kevin
May 11 2011, 01:11PM
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Wäx Män Riley wrote:

For what is essentially an expansion team to make the playoffs is a good sign.

Point well taken but on the subjet of farm teams why has it taken this long for a mature organization like ours to establish roots in the AHL. How many years went by when we did not have our own farm team ? Development was crippled and again this has to fall back on management. As I said before quite frankly, the management team is learning on the job ! I'm an Oil fan through and through and know somewhere in the attic I posses a Gretzky rookie card but likely with some sort of scaring on it....lol I want nothing more than this team to be on top again but current management shows me no sign of hope- well except for out head of drafting, Mr Stu

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#62 Quicksilver ballet
May 11 2011, 01:42PM
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Wäx Män Riley wrote:

You see, I disagree. This will be the second year of their ELC. We have them locked up for at the very least 4 more years, probably 5-6.

The learning is now. The growing is now. I just hope they get some help* to learn to win, and to grow into winners.

*Not by signing a $10M dollar player or a whale of an RFA. Those picks will be valuable 5 years from now, and that money will be needed when the ELCs are up.

Taylor is only committed here for two more years. If he doesn't see a committment to winning by the end of those two yrs, one call to his agent will start this extraction proccess. Watch during last month of Taylors season as he's seated on the bench, tell me that losing isn't starting to wear on him like Grapes mentioned. The Oilers can't afford to have Taylor feeling that losing is acceptable and the norm here like it is for Hemsky,Gagner,Cogliano and comp.

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#63 Wäx Män Riley
May 11 2011, 03:49PM
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Kevin wrote:

Point well taken but on the subjet of farm teams why has it taken this long for a mature organization like ours to establish roots in the AHL. How many years went by when we did not have our own farm team ? Development was crippled and again this has to fall back on management. As I said before quite frankly, the management team is learning on the job ! I'm an Oil fan through and through and know somewhere in the attic I posses a Gretzky rookie card but likely with some sort of scaring on it....lol I want nothing more than this team to be on top again but current management shows me no sign of hope- well except for out head of drafting, Mr Stu

Not having an AHL farm team was an ownership decision, not a management decision. That was a decision made by the ownership group before Katz and yes, absolutely crippled the team and IMO, is a major reason they are where they are right now.

That was addressed this year.

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#64 Wäx Män Riley
May 11 2011, 03:53PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Taylor is only committed here for two more years. If he doesn't see a committment to winning by the end of those two yrs, one call to his agent will start this extraction proccess. Watch during last month of Taylors season as he's seated on the bench, tell me that losing isn't starting to wear on him like Grapes mentioned. The Oilers can't afford to have Taylor feeling that losing is acceptable and the norm here like it is for Hemsky,Gagner,Cogliano and comp.

He/they will be RFAs. Unless they refuse to show up to play, or are offered a $20M/yr offer sheet, they are all property of the Oilers until 25 or 7 years after their ELC kicks in.

Correct me if I am wrong on the RFA rule coming out of an ELC.

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#65 Quicksilver ballet
May 11 2011, 04:14PM
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Wäx Män Riley wrote:

He/they will be RFAs. Unless they refuse to show up to play, or are offered a $20M/yr offer sheet, they are all property of the Oilers until 25 or 7 years after their ELC kicks in.

Correct me if I am wrong on the RFA rule coming out of an ELC.

The Oilers would own his playing rights, but what can they do if Hall suddenly decides he wants out of Edmonton, doesn't want to play on a team with zero committment to winning. The Oilers would be stuck in a no win trade situation like the Lindros/Nordique saga yrs ago. It's not a likely scenario that this occurs.... but it is a possible one.

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#66 Wäx Män Riley
May 11 2011, 05:56PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

It is possible. I think he is more committed to the game than to do that, however.

That being said.. just between you and I, because hopefully we are the last ones on this post...

I always thought Hall was disappointed coming here. If you watch when he was drafted, when his name was called, his face says it all. Looked like the biggest fake smile I have ever seen. It was a while after that until I saw a genuine smile on him.

That being said, it could just have been shock

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#67 John S
May 11 2011, 09:11PM
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So much misinformation RNH or Larsson, if these guys are suppose to be the next Datsyuk or Lidstrom. Why not trade Oilers #1 pick for Tyler Seguin.

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